Overall, the Folk Festival was a ton of fun and definitely worth attending. I do think the ticket prices were a bit steep. Supposedly, at least according to the Boston Globe, there were only 8,000 people on Saturday and 7,500 on Sunday. I find that hard to believe as there seemed to be a whole lot more people there than that (and I’m not including the boats). Regardless of how many people were in attendance, the festival was a great time. I got to see a lot of new artists and a lot of current favorites. A lot of people were upset by the fact that it wasn’t folk music. However, the vast majority of the performers were influenced, at least in part, by folk music. Some were folkier than others, but most of them definitely had a noticeable connection to folk music.
There was a little shopping area with lots of vendor tents selling their wares. I wish they had invited more local artists rather than people from other states. This would have been a great opportunity to showcase some of RI’s own artists who sell their stuff at the Providence Open Market and other local events. The event was mostly corporate-free, though the whole VIP thing kind of bugged me. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of yuppies showing up in their nice clothes hanging out in a special section. Or having a section roped off in front of the soundboard that remains mostly empty because the VIP’s don’t care about the performers on the stage (though it was full for Buffett, and only Buffett). I understand the need to support the festival and selling super expensive VIP tickets is one way to do it (and avoid seriously corporatizing the event), it’s not cool to prevent the real fans from being able to have the good seats by roping off a special VIP section. It was empty with the exception of about 2 people during the Black Crowes set. It’s that kind of thing that pisses me off. Music has become too corporatized, even the most revered events, such as the Newport Folk Festival. I did get a laugh out of people ruining their $300 shoes (no exaggeration) in the mud trying to escape while the true music lovers were enjoying the music and having an all-around good time regardless of what the weather brought.
Other than that, it was a good time. I would definitely go again so long as the lineup is just as good. I have also decided that I don’t care if I ever see Jimmy Buffett again. This was a great show because of the opportunity to do things differently and collaborate, but it was too similar to the show I saw last summer. I can understand the people who go every year to have a great time, but it’s not worth the price of his tickets. I was able to get a 2 day ticket for the festival for just $50 more than the ticket to the Buffett show at Gilette (though I didn’t get the cheap tickets for his show because I wanted to have some chance at seeing the stage).
My favorite performances of the weekend (in no particular order):
- Willy Mason
- Cowboy Junkies
- Brandi Carlile
- The Levon Helm Band
- Trey Anastasio
- Richard Julian
- The Black Crowes
You should check them out if you haven’t already.